A mob in Indonesia wielded clubs, shovels, knives, and hammers to butcher nearly 300 crocodiles at a wildlife breeding sanctuary.
The attack, which left a giant mound of 292 dead reptiles, from babies to adults, came as revenge after a crocodile killed a 48-year-old man in Sorong in West Papua province, USA Today reported.
Photographs by Antara news agency depict villagers flanking the heap, looking at the bloodied mass of bodies and snapping pictures.
It is believed the victim, Sugito, entered an area around the critters' breading pond in search of animal feed on Friday. (Indonesian citizens often have a single name.)
The Jakarta Post quoted a resident, Olga saying, "his family said that Sugito, who worked at a tofu factory, was looking for grass for his cattle when a local resident heard him shouting for help but [...] Sugito was found dead."
After his funeral on Saturday, villagers stormed the crocodile farm, which operated legally. After vandalizing the facility's office, they dragged all the animals out of the water and massacred them in what was "so horrid to see," Olga said.
The head of the local Natural Resources and Conservation Agency in West Papua, Basar Manullang said that the attack breached the law against destroying others' private property.The farm, owned by a resident of Sorong, Albert Siahaan, secured a permit in 2013 to breed protected saltwater and New Guinea crocodiles under the authority of the local government. Yet, it had to comply with the provision that the animals do not disturb the nearby community, Manullang said.
"To prevent this from happening again, farming license holders need to secure surrounding areas," he said.
Manullang added that his agency was aiding the investigation carried out by local police. Authorities said they could not prevent the attack despite dispatching around 40 officers to the scene.
"We couldn't do anything," said Police Chief Dewa Made Sutrahna, as cited by Newsweek. "We were outnumbered. The situation was so tense."
Those responsible, however, could face charges. In Indonesia, killing a protect species could lead to fines and even a prison sentence.
"The crocodile slaughter is obviously against the law," Manullang said. "Crocodiles are God's creatures that need to be protected too."
Saltwater crocodiles, indigenous to Southeast Asia and northern Australia, are an endangered species, whose numbers have rapidly plummeted. Indonesia, alongside Malaysia, boasts some of the largest remaining populations of the creatures. The New Guinea crocodiles faced a similar fate after they were heavily hunted in the mid-20th century for their skin.